Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bill Clinton Needs to Get Over It

Bill Clinton said this today in Denver:

"Suppose for example you're a voter. And you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom would you vote?"

He went on to say he wasn't talking about the current election but that's probably a lie.

I don't know that Hillary would agree with this idea--she didn't say it after all--but let's take Bill's hypothetical on face value for a minute.

First, the most egregious aspect of what Bill said: According to her husband, Hillary agrees with the majority of Democrats on just half of traditional Democratic issues. Could that be true, or does Bill believe Hillary's even more centrist (read: more right-of-center) than she led us to believe during the primary season? If Bill's right about what his wife thinks, then that essentially confirms what a lot of Obama voters suspected about Hillary. It's nice for me to be validated like that, so thanks Bill. (I personally suspect Hillary's not quite so Republican as her husband does, but we'll move on.)

But I also just want to question the logic behind Bill's "rhetorical" question. In his question, he makes the assumption that the hypothetical voter "knows" that Candidate Y, (Hillary), will be "able to deliver" on the half of the issues she agrees with her party on, and Candidate X (Obama), won't be able to "deliver on anything." The fact is, no voter knows how any candidate will do once in office. All we can do as voters is draw conclusions based on evidence. That's what campaigns are about. We don't know, as Bill does, how well Hillary would be able to deliver on the half of Democratic core issues Hillary actually believes in. Neither do we know how well Obama will do. But when you compare two essentially unknown quantities (and don't possess the ability to see into the future as Bill does), do you pick the candidate who agrees with you on everything, or the one who agrees with the other side on half of the issues?

Well, that's a no-brainer.

So even though Bill meant to undercut his party's nominee for president, he may have inadvertently laid out the case why Obama was always the stronger candidate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fun Quiz You Will Be Helpless Not to Take

an you recognize a movie poster based on a single letter from the film's title? How about the movie title this 'C' came from?

Here's a quiz from Empire magazine that puts your movie poster memory to the test.

Not only does it test how well you remember fonts, but it tests how indelibly a given movie has imprinted itself on your brain. And sometimes, it's just a testament to how good the studio marketing departments are, choosing exactly the right font style to go with the film. Anyway, it's virtually impossible to open this quiz and not jump right in. See how many you get.

My score was 28, and then my wife got an additional (and very challenging) two.

On a wild guess, my sister got the very last one (which is punctuation), so I am now deeply impressed by my sister.

Post up your results when you're through.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Brock Sam-- (ahem) Jack Reacher has Some Novels He'd Like You to Read

As I've complained about before, working has seriously cut into my reading time. Recent high-minded self-improving reading projects, like re-reading "Moby Dick" for instance, are now a thing of the past. All I want to read these days is mindless trash, but it has to be good trash, written by skilled practitioners of the mindless, formula page-turner.

Like Lee Child.

Janet Maslin of The New York Times told me (in a review) that Lee Child's new Jack Reacher novel was fantastic, as were all of Child's 10 previous Jack Reacher novels. Like a good little NYTimes reader, I raced out to the Barnes&Noble and picked up the 10th Jack Reacher novel, "Bad Luck and Trouble," in mass-market paperback, and plowed through it. Good stuff. I had a blast reading about Reacher and his pals running around Los Angeles and Las Vegas, driving up Sunset and Hollywood, killing guys in places I knew. One bad guy meets his end on the Las Vegas strip on that dark, pre-construction no-man's land section of sidewalk that stretches between the low-end Stratosphere side of the strip, and the glitzier Bellagio and MGM Grand side. It's fun knowing exactly where a scene in a book is taking place. And there's just so much killin', and Child makes it so entertaining. After I finished "Bad Luck and Trouble," I read the first novel, then the 2nd, and now I'm into the 3rd. Child writes the pulp, I eat it up. So I think my reading for the foreseeable future is set. Nearly 4 down. Seven to go.

A bit about Jack Reacher. His distinguishing characteristic is that he's "huge" apparently. 6'5" and 22o lbs is "huge" in Lee Child's view. I'm 6'6" and 220 lbs myself, but I'm not sure I really qualify for "huge" the way Lee Child wrote the sentence. In context, "huge" might as well have been "so enormous he could arm-wrestle Hagrid and win." So he's big, and it's kind of fun for me when Child makes some reference to how daily life is slightly different for people who are somewhat taller than the average. Anyway, he's big, but he's also a brilliant detective, and when he finds out who did things he don't like, he likes to deal with the bad guys with his hands, and he's not shy about administering the ultimate sanction. In "Bad Luck and Trouble," for instance, Reacher knocks out two guards and then, while they're lying unconscious, suffocates them to death with his hand over their nose and mouth. Makes good practical sense in the story, the stakes are life and death after all, but there's just something weird about rooting for the hero when he's such a cold-blooded executioner. Maybe I'm just grooving on that frisson between knowing what's intellectually right, and wanting Jack to do what feels right. And in these books, killin' always feels right.

The Jack Reacher novels may be so popular because they pose the eternal question: What would Sherlock Holmes be like if he lived in modern day America, was tall and muscular, looked a bit like Brock Samson from "The Venture Bros.," and liked to commit more murders than he solved?

Well, he would be a bit like Jack Reacher.

I've read a few of the books now so I'm wise to Child's formula but I don't mind it yet. I don't know if I'll get through all 11, but right now they're fun as hell and they're good for those snippets of the day that lend themselves to a quick read -- like the 19 minutes at the fast-food joint of my choice at lunch, for instance, or sitting in line at the 8-minute left turn light on my way home. I was surprised to find how quickly I can knock out a book that way. Anyway, they're definitely worth checking out if you have the time or inclination.

Okay. End of book-related blog post.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Moments from my fast-food eatin' life

A couple recent moments I witnessed standing inside fast food restaurants:

1.) I was in a McDonald's near Hartsfield waiting for my sweet sweet McGriddle order, when a large black man in a button down shirt and slacks came in. He strolled right up to another line. The manager, a no-nonsense black lady with intense eyes and a voice that could clearly get scary when she needed it to, was giving the usual orders to her crew to keep things running. She sees the guy and a small, appreciative smile appears on her face. He smiles back. They talk for a second and then he asks, "Where you from?" but he asks gently, like he knows the answer and it's a sad one. She smiles proudly, resolutely, and says, "New Orleans." He tells her he thought he recognized the accent. "Why you out here?" he asks. He knows the answer to this one too. "Katrina," she says, like she's saying the name of the bitch that evicted everyone out of her neighborhood. They nod and look at each other, murmuring Mm-hmmms, and then he opens his arms to her and they embrace. He was back out the door shortly after that, and she was still smiling to herself until I left.

2.) A couple of days ago, I was at our Kennesaw Wendy's on my half-hour lunch break. I was standing in line, this time waiting to order a sweet sweet Big Bacon Classic meal, when I heard some people entering the little glassed-in airlock-room all fast food restaurants have. As soon as I looked, I saw two men. One wore sunglasses and was talking on his cell phone. The other was wearing a baseball hat. An instant after I first saw him, the guy in the hat slammed face-first into the first plexi-glass panel. The actual door was two panels downs. I saw his nose mash up against the glass and his hat lift up high on his head. I looked away, smiling. And when I looked back, they were both laughing. He'd seen me see him. When he comes in I assure him I didn't see anything. Later, while I'm waiting for the counter crew to populate my tray with Wendy's goodness, he's in line and tells me about another time he walked full-steam into an immovable object, this time a sliding glass door. Apparently it hurt. His nose and forehead were sore, he said, for days after. I listened and smiled good-naturedly, but all the while I was thinking, "I'm not sure I'd be repeating this stuff to people if I were him. People might think I was stupid." Seemed like a nice guy though.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Who Will be the Villain in the 3rd Batman Film? A Question... And an Answer

A post on one of my favorite blogs, WWTDD, reminded me of something I wanted to bring up at the end of my "Dark Knight" post.

British newspaper and shining purveyor of unvarnished truth, the Telegraph UK, recently published a rumor that Christopher Nolan's next film in the Batman saga is called "Gotham," Catwoman plays a large part in the film, and Angelina Jolie is apparently hot to do the part.

This all seems like complete BS to me for a lot of obvious reasons, but it did make me wonder who Nolan's going to use as the villain in the third film. If not Catwoman (and he still could, of course), than who? How would Batman's other comic book nemesi appear in the Christopher Nolan's Batverse? I run down the list in my head, and most of them seem too outlandish to fit into Nolan's Gotham, but he's got to pick somebody, right?

Catwoman's not a bad bet, but she's been done to death, and I'm sure the stink of the Halle Berry disaster is still cloud-thick in the halls of Warner Bros. So probably not her. Riddler? Too much like the Joker. Killer Croc? Probably too sci-fi. Experiments gone wrong is more Marvel's thing anyway. Ra's Al Ghul's been done, though, since he is immortal, he could make a fun return in the 3rd film. But it would have to be a classic Batman villain, right? Someone people have heard of.

At this point, my money's on the Penguin. I feel like an idiot for writing that, but there it is. Where's the one part of Bruce Wayne's life where he hasn't yet been attacked? As Bruce Wayne. (Sure there was the thing in his apartment, but that wasn't about him, that was about Dent.) He's a savvy corporate operator, and a talented executive. And his control of Wayne Enterprises helps keep Batman in business. So what if someone more able and more cunning than Bruce came in and took that all away? A corporate takeover like that would imperil not only Bruce Wayne but Batman as well. Who could even do that, powerful as Bruce is? Only another powerful and savvy tycoon. Like ... the Penguin.

I think he could very easily be adapted into the Gotham of these new Batman films. He wouldn't wear a top hat or have a monocle. And he wouldn't have that weird squawk thing some other actors have done with the Penguin. I imagine him as a kind of Dick Cheney/Kingpin/Lex Luthor amalgam, attacking Batman from all angles, providing Bruce Wayne with his toughest test. Maybe Penguin comes in and thinks there's more money to be made on a crime-ridden Gotham than on a safe and clean Gotham. Or maybe it's the opposite -- he helps make Gotham into a cleaner and safer city a la New York city in the 90s, but uses illegal worse-than-Giuliani-style tactics to make it happen. This, of course, draws a conflicted response from our hero. And since Nolan and Co. like making social and political commentaries, I think it's not too big a stretch to think they'd like to turn their attention to the excesses of corporatism.

I don't know, obviously. I'm just spitballing here. Anyone else got an idea?